Respect: Everything we know about the Aretha Franklin biopic 🎶 (2024)

Planet Radio

greatest hits



Jennifer Hudson stars in the lead role

Author: Anna Sky MagliolaPublished 10th Sep 2021
Last updated 10th Sep 2021

The life of music legend and soul icon Aretha Franklin has been immortalised in the biopic Respect, charting her ascendancy from Church singer into becoming the Queen of Soul.

The film, directed by Liesl Tommy, stars musicians Jennifer Hudson and Mary J. Blige who bring to life many of Aretha's most iconic songs including 'I Say A Little Prayer' and 'Respect'.

Respect was initially set for release in 2020 but was put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic and filming restrictions, but has now been released on 10th September 2021.

Here is everything we know about the Aretha Franklin movie, Respect...

Is there a trailer for Respect?

Yes, there is a teaser trailer for Respect. The teaser, released in December 2019, shows Jennifer Hudson as the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. The trailer, which is less than a minute long, features a clip of Jennifer singing Aretha's iconic song, which the film is named after, 'Respect'.

When was Respect released?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Respect was pushed back from its 2020 release date, and was instead released in the US on 13th August 2021, with a worldwide release following on 10th September.

Who plays Aretha Franklin in Respect?

Jennifer Hudson plays Aretha Franklin in the movie Respect. Jennifer is an accomplished singer and actress in her own right and according to Deadline, Jennifer was handpicked by Aretha herself to play the lead role.

Jennifer rose to fame after being a finalist on American Idol back in 2004 and since then has starred in a number of films. Her first feature film was Dreamgirls in 2006, for which she won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Who stars in Respect?

In addition to Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker stars in the film as Aretha Franklin's Dad, C. L. Franklin. The film also stars Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Skye Dakota Turner, Tate Donovan and Mary J. Blige.

What is Respect the movie about?

Respect follows the life of soul singer Aretha Franklin. The film starts following her as a child singing in her father’s church’s choir, to her achieving international superstardom. Based on a true story, the official website describes it at a, 'remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.'

Who directed Respect?

Respect is directed by Liesl Tommy. Lisel is a stage director having directed many performances across the US. The South African-born director has lived in the US since she was a teenager and is best-known for her adaption of Les Misérables in Dallas in 2014.

You can hear songs by Aretha Franklin on Greatest Hits Radio.

Check out our favourite musical biopics and some we can't wait to see:


Elvis, starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks was released on 24th June. The film follows Elvis Presley's life and career, and is directed by Baz Luhrmann.

Elton John - Rocketman

Hugely popular biopic Rocketman was released in May 2019, following Elton John's life from his humble beginnings through until the 1980's. He wrote a brand new song, '(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again', for the film, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It starred Taron Egerton as Elton and Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin. Elton's husband David was a co-producer on the film, which also won Taron a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
Click more to buy the DVD on Amazon.

Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody was released in 2018 and tells the story of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury from his humble beginnings to one of the biggest stars in the world. The film culminates at the legendary Live Aid gig at Wembley Stadium in 1985. The film became a huge success and only increased the popularity of Queen. The musical film was nominated for numerous awards. The production won four times at the 91st Academy Awards including Best Actor for Rami Malek portrayal of Freddie, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.
Click more to get the DVD on Amazon.

Alan McGee - Creation Stories

Released in 2021, Creation Stories tells the story of Alan McGee and Creation Records. The film was adapted by screenwriter Irvine Welsh from the Creation boss' 2013 autobiography of the same name. Alan McGee founded the independent Creation Records label in 1983 and worked with iconic bands including Primal Scream, The Boo Radleys, The Jesus and Mary Chain and perhaps most famously signed Oasis at their gig in Glasgow King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in 1993.

Johnny Cash - Walk The Line

Walk The Line tells to life story of legendary American Country singer-songwriter Johnny Cash. It is based on two of his autobiographies, Man in Black: His Own Story in His Own Words from 1975 and Cash: The Autobiography in 1997 and follows the story from his early life, romance with musician June Carter and his ascent into the domination of the Country music genre. The film was released in November 2005 and stars Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix.
Click more to buy the DVD on Amazon.

24 Hour Party People

Released in 2002, 24 Hour Party People depicts the story of the Manchester music scene from 1976 to 1992 and the revolutionary independent record label Factory Records. The film begins with the explosion of Punk Rock in the late 1970s, moves through the 1980s and into the 'Madchester' rave scene of the 1990s revolving around the famous Hacienda nightclub. The main character is Factory founder Tony Wilson, played by Steve Coogan. The film dramatises events that actually happened, rumours and urban legends surrounding the scene, with characters often breaking the fourth wall to speak directly to the viewer. It features the careers of bands including the Happy Mondays, Joy Division, New Order and A Certain Ratio.
Click more to buy the DVD on Amazon.

Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter

Released in 1970, Gimme Shelter depicts the Rolling Stones' 1969 US tour. The tour famously culminated at the Altamont Free Concert, which ended disastrously. At the concert held in California, where the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club supplied security for the gig Mick Jagger was punched in the head as he got off his helicopter and a fight erupted in the crowd during the third song of the set, 'Sympathy for the Devil'. Sadly, 18-year-old concertgoer Meredith Hunter was killed by one of the Hells Angels when he tried to climb onstage.


Originally a Broadway musical, the film Dreamgirls was released in 2006, taking strong inspiration from the history of the Motown Records label and their top girl group The Supremes. The film stars huge names including Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Danny Glover. The production received eight nominations at the 79th Academy Awards and took the top prize in two categories, Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Hudson and best Sound Mixing. It also won three Golden Globe Awards.
Click more to rent the film on Amazon Prime.

Aretha Franklin - Respect

Respect is music biopic released in 2021 about the life of one of the greatest American singers and civil rights activist, Aretha Franklin. Jennifer Hudson, who won an Oscar for her role in Dreamgirls, portrayed the 'Respect' singer in the film.

Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With Somebody

A film about the incredible life and career of singer and actress Whitney Houston was released in December 2022. Actress Naomi Ackie portrayed Whitney in the biopic, which was a huge success upon its release in cinemas.

Bob Dylan - Coming soon

Oscar nominated actor Timothée Chalamet is set to portray Bob Dylan in an upcoming biopic about the music icon. The film will portray the musicians life and career, including his switch from folk to rock music. Work on the film was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic but we cannot WAIT to see it!

The Bee Gees - Coming soon

The forthcoming Bee Gees biopic is yet to be given a name but the film will follow the lives of brother Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb from their humble beginnings in Manchester to their pop and Disco superstardom. Barry Gibb, the last surviving member of the trio will serve as executive producer. The band were recently the subject of documentary 'How Can You Mend a Broken Heart'.

Boy George - Set for release in 2023

Although there is no confirmation on who will star in the film, we anticipate Boy George's biopic Karma Chameleon to be a huge hit with the Culture Club singer's army of loyal fans. The film is likely to be released in 2023 and depicts Boy George's life from growing up in an Irish working-class family to becoming a music star in the 1980s.

Cher - Coming soon

Yes, that's right! Cher is getting her own musical biopic. Although no title has been confirmed, the film will portray the incredible life of the now 76-year-old. Cher has starred in a number of films herself, including most recently Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! featuring the music of ABBA.

Ronnie Spector - Coming soon

A film following The Ronette's rise to fame as well as lead singer Ronnie Spector's personal life is in the making. Although a release date has not been set, actress Zendaya has been chosen to play Ronnie.

Although the singer sadly passed away on 12th January 2022, she was an executive producer on the film and chose Zendaya for the role.

Bob Marley - Coming soon

A film about the life and career of reggae legend Bob Marley is in the works, and in February it was announced that actor Kingsley Ben-Adir had been cast to play Bob Marley in the biopic.

U2 series - Coming soon

A scripted series about U2 is in the early stages of development at Netflix. Director J.J. Abrams is attached to the series, as is Anthony McCarten who wrote the script for the Bohemian Rhapsody film.

Dolly Parton - In the works

Dolly Parton is working on the film adaption of her book Run, Rose, Run - which she will also star in - and is now in talks about making a musical film about her life.

Madonna - Put on hold

Madonna was working on a film about her life, and was co-writing and co-directing the biopic. Although Julie Garner was offered the lead role in June 2022, production of the film has been put on hold.

Madonna is going on her 'The Celebration Tour' across the world in 2023 and this is her focus, meaning she isn't able to work on her biopic and it has been put on pause.

Read more:

7 of our favourite ever biopics and 5 we can't wait to see 🎶

10 of our favourite Motown Records artists 🎶

How to listen to Greatest Hits Radio:

You can listen on DAB digital radio, online at, or via the Greatest Hits Radio app. You can also listen on your smart speaker by saying 'Play Greatest Hits Radio' on Alexa, or 'Play Greatest Hits Radio on tune-in' on Google Home.

  • Aretha Franklin
  • respect

As a seasoned enthusiast in the realms of music, film, and entertainment, let me assure you that my expertise extends beyond a mere superficial understanding of the subjects. I possess a profound knowledge of the intricacies within the world of biopics, particularly those centered around iconic musicians and legendary figures. Allow me to substantiate my authority by delving into the details surrounding the Aretha Franklin biopic, "Respect," and connecting it with broader themes in the cinematic landscape.

Aretha Franklin's "Respect" Biopic: A Cinematic Masterpiece

  1. Release Details:

    • "Respect" was initially slated for a 2020 release but faced delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic and filming restrictions.
    • The film saw its U.S. release on August 13, 2021, followed by a worldwide release on September 10, 2021.
  2. Cast and Characters:

    • Jennifer Hudson, a distinguished singer and actress, portrays the legendary Aretha Franklin in the film.
    • Forest Whitaker takes on the role of Aretha's father, C. L. Franklin.
    • The ensemble cast includes notable names like Mary J. Blige, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, and others.
  3. Directorial Vision:

    • Liesl Tommy, known for her prowess as a stage director, helms the directorial responsibilities for "Respect."
    • Tommy's background includes directing various performances across the United States, with notable recognition for her adaptation of "Les Misérables" in Dallas in 2014.
  4. Narrative Focus:

    • "Respect" follows the remarkable journey of soul singer Aretha Franklin, spanning from her childhood in her father's church choir to her international superstardom.
    • The film is based on the true story of Aretha Franklin, offering a glimpse into the music icon's quest to find her voice.
  5. Trailer and Teasers:

    • A teaser trailer, released in December 2019, provides a sneak peek into Jennifer Hudson's portrayal of Aretha Franklin.
    • The teaser features a brief clip of Jennifer singing Aretha's iconic song, "Respect."
  6. Comparison with Other Music Biopics:

    • The article draws parallels with other notable music biopics like "Elvis," "Rocketman," "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Creation Stories," "Walk The Line," and more.
    • Each film explores the lives and careers of iconic musicians, offering audiences an intimate look into the personal and professional struggles of these artists.
  7. Upcoming Biopics:

    • The article anticipates the release of biopics on Bob Dylan, the Bee Gees, Boy George, Cher, Ronnie Spector, Bob Marley, and a scripted series about U2.
    • These upcoming projects showcase a continued fascination with exploring the lives of musical legends on the silver screen.

In conclusion, the world of music biopics stands as a testament to the enduring allure of real-life stories told through the lens of cinema. "Respect" joins the ranks of these cinematic masterpieces, offering a poignant portrayal of Aretha Franklin's life and legacy. As we eagerly await future releases, the intersection of music and film continues to captivate audiences with its rich narratives and timeless melodies.

Respect: Everything we know about the Aretha Franklin biopic 🎶 (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lilliana Bartoletti

Last Updated:

Views: 6368

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lilliana Bartoletti

Birthday: 1999-11-18

Address: 58866 Tricia Spurs, North Melvinberg, HI 91346-3774

Phone: +50616620367928

Job: Real-Estate Liaison

Hobby: Graffiti, Astronomy, Handball, Magic, Origami, Fashion, Foreign language learning

Introduction: My name is Lilliana Bartoletti, I am a adventurous, pleasant, shiny, beautiful, handsome, zealous, tasty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.